Mount Kilimanjaro - Rongai Route


About this route

The Rongai Route is the only route that ascends Kilimanjaro from the north, from the village of Nalemoru, just east of Rongai village on the border between Tanzania and Kenya. This route retains a sense of unspoiled wilderness and offers a different perspective on Kilimanjaro by approaching it from the north.

It is one of the quietest routes as it only converges with the Marangu Route at Kibo Hut for the ascent to the summit. Rongai is moderately difficult and is recommended for those with less experience.

  • medium difficulty
  • very good scenery
  • low traffic
  • medium success rate

Rongai Route

Duration: 6 days

Starts from: Arusha or Moshi

Ends at: Arusha or Moshi

Accommodation: Camping

Price: from 2080 USD per person

The route day-to-day

(click on the day to expand)

Day 1: Nalemoru Gate (2020 m) to Simba Camp (2700 m)

Hiking time: 3-4 h / Distance: 8 km / Ascent: 680 m

An early start is needed today as the drive from your lodge in Arusha or Moshi to the Nalemoru trailhead takes approximately 3 – 5 hours. Here you will meet your guide and porters. After registering at the ranger point you begin your hike along a small winding path which crosses maize fields before entering pine forest, and then climbs gently through an endemic forest.

The trail is not at all steep, but is rather a gentle hike through beautiful country. The first night is spent at Simba Camp, a pleasant grassy area with pit latrines, space for several tents and striking views of Kibo. Water is available from the stream 50 m back along the track.

Accommodation: Simba Camp. (-/L/D)

Day 2: Simba Camp (2700 m) to Kikeleva Cave (3650 m)

Hiking time: 5-6 h / Distance: 10 km / Ascent: 950 m

The trail continues steadily upwards through giant heather and low brush passing a cave to the left after about 2 hours. The ascent continues becoming steeper and rockier just before reaching the signpost Second Cave (3450 m) where it’s usual to stop for lunch. After a short lunch break the path splits, with the left (easterly) fork going to Kikeleva Caves and the right fork leading straight ahead.

At this junction you will take a left and head southeast on a small but distinct path over open, easy moorland terrain to Kikeleva Caves, with fine views of Mawenzi en route and Kibo off in the distance to your right. There is a sheltered area for camping in a shallow valley, with water available from a nearby stream.

Accommodation: Kikeleva Cave. (B/L/D)

Day 3: Kikeleva Cave (3650 m) to Mawenzi Tarn Hut (4330 m)

Hiking time: 3-4 h / Distance: 5 km / Ascent: 680 m

From Kikeleva Caves, the path ascends through the moorland, leaving the vegetation behind and entering into the alpine desert shortly before reaching Mawenzi Tarn Hut. The hut has an impressive, sheltered setting just below the jaggered spires of Mawenzi Peak, with limited supplies of water available from a small tarn (mountain lake).

The trek is easily done in a morning; it’s common to spend the afternoon resting or doing short acclimatising walks in the area.

Accommodation: Mawenzi Tarn Hut. (B/L/D)

Day 4: Mawenzi Tarn Hut (4330 m) to School/Kibo Hut (4750 m)

Hiking time: 4-5 h / Distance: 8 km / Ascent: 420 m

From Mawenzi Tarn Hut, head southwest across the barren and often windy Saddle, with Kibo rising up ahead as Mawenzi moves into the distance behind you. After about 4 hours, climb briefly but steeply up increasingly loose scree to School Hut. Alternative camping is also done in front of the Kibo Hut – 4700 m.

The remainder of the day is spent resting in preparation for the final ascent, which begins around midnight.

Accommodation: Kibo Hut or School Hut. (B/L/D)

Day 5: School Hut (4750 m) to Uhuru Peak (5895 m) and down to Horombo Hut (3720 m)

Hiking time: 8 h to Uhuru Peak, 6 h to descend to Horombo Hut / Distance: 21 km / Ascent: 1145 m / Descent: 2175 m

You will rise around 23:30, and after some tea and biscuits you shuffle off into the night, and this is where the going really gets tough. The first section of the trail consists of a rocky path to the Hans Meyer Cave (5150 m) which also functions as a good resting spot. The path then zigzags upwards to Gillman’s point (5680 m), which is located on the crater rim. This section is very steep with a lot of stone scree, requiring a great physical and mental effort. This is probably the most demanding section of the entire route. Do the Kili shuffle and move slowly.

From Gillman’s Point you may encounter snow or ice (depending on the time of the year) all the way up to Uhuru peak (5895 m), the highest point in Africa. Total exhilaration and satisfaction – you made it. Weather conditions on the summit will determine how long you will be able to spend taking photographs before the 3 hour descent back to School Hut. However your stay at Uhuru Peak should not extend 20 minutes due to the high altitude. After a short rest you gather all your gear you left behind for the ascent at School Hut and head down to Horombo Hut (3.5 hours) for your last overnight stay on the mountain. The total time spent walking on this day is around 14 hours, so be prepared for a very tough day. Later in the evening you enjoy your last dinner on the mountain and a well-earned sleep, filled with memories and stirring emotions.

Accommodation: Horombo Hut. (-/Brunch/D)

Day 6: Horombo Hut (3720 m) to Marangu Gate (1840 m)

Hiking time: 5-6 h / Distance: 18 km / Descent: 1880 m

After breakfast you continue your descent (6 hours), passing via the Mandara Hut for a short break or lunch stop, down to the Marangu Gate. It is strongly recommended not to pay your porters any tips until you and all your gear have reached the gate safely. At Marangu Gate you sign your name and details in a register.

This is also where successful climbers receive their summit certificates. Those climbers who reached Gillman’s Point (5680 m) are issued with green certificates and those who reached Uhuru Peak (5895 m), receive gold certificates. Certificates are also offered to those who reach Stella Point – half way point between Uhuru and Gillman’s. Transfer back to your accommodation.


Requirements on Kilimanjaro

Persons attempting the climb must be physically very fit and in very good general health. You need surefootedness, trekking experience, good physical shape for the hiking stages lasting several hours, team spirit and acceptance to staying in simple accommodations.


Please note

Campsites and toilet facilities on the mountain are very basic and water for personal hygiene on the mountain is limited. Clients climb at their own risk. It is at the guide’s decision to break off a climb in case weather conditions or clients health dictate it for safety reasons.

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